MEERA JOSHI by company

Courtesy photo

Meera Joshi

New York General Manager, Sam Schwartz

Meera Joshi might have been the CEO of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission from 2014 through 2019, but when transportation legend “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz asked her if she wanted to join his consulting firm and oversee the New York office, she was wary.

He countered that it would be fine, telling her that she had a vision of where cities are going. That’s the whole goal of the business they’re in together: solving the problems facing transportation now and in the future, especially in big cities like New York.

Joshi, a lawyer by training, has adapted quickly since taking the job. Her position in a rapidly reorganizing transportation world is unique: She spends as much time thinking about gathering good data — the “new oil,” according to some pundits — as grappling with urban infrastructure needs.

For example, when she arrived at the TLC, Uber was already in town and Lyft had just arrived. People loved the services. “There were a lot of features that as a regulator, you didn’t want to squash,” Joshi says.

That created pressure to make decisions without enough information, so they got some. “It was actually the only way a regulator could regulate without being overly involved with intricacies of how a company runs its business,” she says.

Joshi’s next frontier involves self-driving cars and the changes they could bring to cities — when they do eventually arrive.

“We should be open to whether our planning today can adapt to our planning tomorrow,” she adds.